WINDSOR, Ont. - The Windsor Spitfires sacrificed a lot to acquire Logan Brown. So far, the rookie centre has been worth the investment.
The Spitfires gave up six draft picks before the start of the season to pry Brown from the Niagara IceDogs, who drafted the 16-year-old from Chesterfield, Mo., sixth overall in the 2014 Ontario Hockey League priority selection draft.
The trade was risky for Windsor, which had already had to give up some of its draft picks due to league sanctions for breaking the league's recruitment and benefits rules.
But the six-foot-five, 215-pound centre has turned out nicely for the Spitfires this season. Brown has 12 goals and 16 assists in 39 games and is tied for third among rookie scorers in the OHL this season. Brown also leads all OHL players born in 1998 in scoring.
"You can just see so much potential in Logan and imagine how good he is going to be when he is a finished product," Spitfires had coach and president Bob Boughner said. "I think he is a 'can't miss' National Hockey League player not only because of his size, but because of his skill level."
Brown has been a bright spot for the Spitfires, who have languished at or near bottom of the Western Conference standings all season long and currently trail the Saginaw Spirit by four points for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"I don't think any of us thought we'd be where we currently are in the standings before the start of the season, but we've definitely brought our collective game up a notch or two since the (holiday) break," Brown said."There's always room for improvement, and I think that motivates us all."
He is also quick to identify the strengths of his own game and his role in Windsor this season.
"I like to pass and utilize my wingers and I think I have good vision out there," Brown said. "Everyone likes to score goals, but I like to contribute my helping my teammates score and helping stop the other team from scoring."
Brown's efforts have not gone unnoticed by Boughner.
"He's played heavy minutes for us up the middle at centre and for a 16-year-old to do that is difficult to do in this league at that age," Boughner said. "I'm very impressed with his play away from the puck and in his own end. He is a responsible player.
"Not many players are as good as he is in their own end. He is blessed with great hockey talent."
Perhaps some of that talent has rubbed off from his father Jeff Brown, a defenceman who played in 747 NHL games over the course of 19 seasons. The elder Brown, who is in his first season as head coach of the Ottawa 67s, coached his son last season with the Indiana Ice Midget U16s.
The adjustment from playing midget hockey in suburban St. Louis last season to the OHL this season is lessened due to Brown's work ethic and focus.
"The speed of the game and the size of the players have been the biggest adjustments I've had to make to playing this season," Brown said. "In the OHL, a passing lane will open up quickly and then close just as fast and you have to act and react faster in order to make a good play.
"The players are also older and bigger and stronger here and the physical game has been more intense as well."
Brown has Canadian and American citizenship but chose to play for Canada at the recent 2015 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge in Sarnia, Ontario.
"It was an unbelievable experience and a thrill to put on the Canadian jersey for the first time in an international tournament," Brown claims. "It was great to learn the ways of Hockey Canada and hopefully I'll be able to represent Canada again."
While Brown is still eligible to play internationally for the United States, he seems to have made his choice.
"Up here hockey is a religion and the World Junior Hockey Championships are a national holiday and I love that," Brown said. "My dad is Canadian and I hope that Hockey Canada likes what they see in me."